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EURO2016

Russian fan leader vows to return to Euro2016

The Russian far-right football fan leader expelled from France over unrest at Euro 2016 on Saturday swaggered through a Moscow airport, his outstretched arms holding a Russian flag with a snarling bear -- and vowed to return to France before the end of the tournament.

Russian fan leader vows to return to Euro2016
Alexander Shprygin returns to Moscow after expulsion from France. Photo: Vasily Maximov/AFP
Alexander Shprygin, who heads Russia's national supporters association, was among the 20 Russian fans expelled from France for disrupting public order after violent clashes between Russian and English fans last weekend before their countries met in Marseille.
 
The group was put on a flight from Nice to Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport earlier Saturday after French investigators were unable to slap specific charges on its members but said they suspected some of them were violent and well-organised hooligans.
 
Shprygin said the fans had received usual exit stamps that would allow them to return France.
 
“I have the desire to (go back),” Shprygin told reporters, adding that he had tickets to Russia's match against Wales on Monday. “I plan to make this decision after I go home and see my family.”
 
The fans expelled from France have denied taking part in the Marseille  unrest.
 
The other expelled fans echoed their leader's statements, swearing their innocence and said their treatment had been unfair.
 
“When the French fans come in 2018 (for the World Cup hosted by Russia), I hope no-one will touch them or insult them,” said Vitaly Petrakov, a 48-year-old Moscow Torpedo fan.
 
Ivan Mironov, who heads the local branch of the fan association in Russia's Perm region, said the group could not be held responsible for individual fans' behaviour.
 
“There were 15,000 Russians at the game in Marseille,” he said. “How can one organisation be responsible for all of them?”
 
Russian officials meanwhile have expressed conflicting opinions about fighting among football fans, spanning from condemnation to outright endorsement. 
 
President Vladimir Putin on Friday said that fighting among football fans was a “disgrace” but questioned how “200 of our fans could beat up several thousand English,” drawing laughs and applause from the audience at the economic forum he was addressing.
 
The lawmaker who employs Shprygin at the Russian parliament, Igor Lebedev, wrote on Twitter earlier this week he saw “nothing wrong” in the clashes and encouraged the Russian supporters to “keep it up.”

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EURO2016

France to see 90,000 security staff on patrol at Euro 2016

France said on Wednesday it will deploy more than 90,000 police and security guards for Euro 2016, vowing to do "everything possible to avoid a terrorist attack" during the football tournament that starts next month.

France to see 90,000 security staff on patrol at Euro 2016
Members of French riot police take part in a mock terrorist attack exercise at the Georges Pompidou stadium in Valence. Photo: AFP
The announcement followed chaos on Saturday at the Stade de France national stadium when smoke bombs were set off during the national cup final, sparking panic.
   
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told the sports daily L'Equipe that the match between Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille should not be considered a test for Euro 2016.
   
“They were not the same spectators, not the same organisers, nor the same security deployment,” he said.
   
“However, what happened will be taken into account” ahead of the month-long football tournament, which kicks off on June 10th with matches to be played at ten venues around the country.
   
Cazeneuve later wrote on Twitter that 77,000 police and paramilitary police would be deployed, along with 13,000 private security guards.
   
Some of the 10,000 soldiers deployed around France since last year's jihadist attacks in Paris will also be used to secure the matches, he said.
   
“Our objective is for the Euro to be a big festive gathering, but we owe the French the truth. Zero percent precaution means 100 percent risk, but 100 percent precaution does not mean a zero percent risk,” he said.
   
“We are doing everything to avoid a terrorist attack, and we are preparing to respond.”
   
The Stade de France, which will host the opening game and final, was targeted by suicide bombers during the attacks by the Islamic State group on the French capital in November. The assailants tried unsuccessfully to get inside the security perimeter.
 
No 'specific threat'
   
Cazeneuve said security inside the stadium is the responsibility of UEFA, while safety at the “fan zones” — which will accommodate seven million people — will be in the hands of private security agents.
   
“Fan zones are secure spaces,” he said. “I took the decision to impose security pat-downs at entrances, to use metal detectors and to ban bags inside. If there were no fan zones, fans would regroup in an ad hoc setting and the risk (of an attack) would be greater.”
   
Despite the beefed-up measures, the interior minister said there was no particular threat against the football tournament.
   
“At this time we do not have a specific threat to a specific team or a specific player, a specific match, or a specific fan zone,” he said.
   
He added that protests would not be banned but did not rule out possible disorder as the country is gripped by a major labour strike.
   
“It remains an open possibility… that security cannot be guaranteed by law and order forces.”
 
When it comes to the Euro 2016, no one can guarantee there's no risk.
 
“When it comes to terrorism in general, and given what has happened in recent months, there is clearly no 'zero-risk' around Euro 2016,” internal security expert Olivier Renaudie told The Local recently.
 
While fans cannot possibly be given any guarantees, what they be sure of is that the security will be more extensive than anything mounted at a football tournament before.
 
“France will put more means into security than we've seen before,” said Renaudie.
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